Works in the Herald 1938

General disapproval among Federal members has greeted the proposal that parliamentary debates in Canberra should be broadcast. The Prime Minister considers that such a practice would not add to the prestige of Parliament.

Nay, Mr Speaker, let the ideal stay,
   The picture that voters have in mind
Of Solons in debate far leagues away
   Deep in the problems of poor humankind.
Here where the Cotter wends by verdant banks,
   Let them imagine eloquence sublime
And for those blessings offer grateful thanks,
And vote for us again when comes the time.

Never the real!  Ah, let no listening "mike"
   Whose ear ubitquitous within the house,
Gathers too truly what debates are like
   When Ministers grow hot and members rouse,
When shouts across the floor fly back and forth
   And loose tongues wag with little thought for care,
When words released in unconsidered wrath
   Are flung regardless to the ambient air.

Think, Mr Speaker.  All that Canberra means
   All that it typifies is here at stake.
Must Cairns be privy to unlovely scenes,
   The Leeuwin learn of all the bulls we make?
Must the unguarded phrase the tart retort
   From Darwin down to Derwent and beyond
Borne on the trembling ether be a sport
   Where'er loud speakers mockingly respond.

Why have we set these legislative halls
   Midst sylvan scenes within the distant bush
If, broadcast, all the clamor but recalls
   Forgotten pictures of a noisy push
That once in other cities held debate
   Too publicly to let our words run free.
Condemn us not again to that sad fate.
   Preserve our prestige!  Spare our dignity.

Herald, 23 May 1938, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-07